The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Old Seats

The other day I took my seats from Old Comiskey Park out of the house and onto the back porch. As part of their centennial celebration (which I alone am hosting), I thought it would be nice to sit in them under the bright blue sky like people used to do for decades when they were actually installed at Comiskey Park.

Now, I've sat in the seats plenty of times over the years. But in recent months, they've been fairly fixed in a particular location in our house. In moving them outside temporarily I noticed that the bases the seats are fixed to are in worse shape than the seats themselves. This struck me as odd -- or at least a little bit funny -- since the seats are affixed to bases that are less than 20 years old, while the seats themselves are at least a century old. Comiskey Park opened in April of 1910. And these seats may have been installed a few months before then.

(On the topic of "old" stadiums, can you guess which ballpark is the 3rd oldest in the big leagues? Most casual fans would quickly identify Fenway Park and the stadium on the North side of Chicago as the two oldest parks... but the third might not come to mind immediately. It's Dodger Stadium. Yes, the stadium that the Dodgers had to wait to see built post the move out West is currently the 3rd oldest park in the big leagues. My, how times have changed.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Talking to Dogs

Whenever I make it to the after life (even if I don't make it to heaven), I hope that I get a chance to talk to the dogs I've known well in my life. In particular, I'd like to talk to Yogi, the deaf dog that we currently "own".

Now, I'm assuming that in heaven dogs are able to talk... or communicate directly with people somehow. That's what I'm hoping for at least. If that's possible, talking to all the dogs I've known well would be interesting. But talking to Yogi would be particularly so. I wonder if he knows he's deaf (I don't think he does - I don't think he feels that he's missing out on anything). And I'd like to talk to him about what he's thinking all through his current life.

One day, maybe.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Library

If you know me personally, you probably know that I'm "into" technology. And if you don't know me personally but are reading this blog, you'd probably guess the same -- if only because this blog has been in existence since 2003.

Due to my borderline obsession with technology and reading, I'm a proud owner of Amazon's Kindle. I haven't traded up yet to the Kindle 2 (but I am eagerly waiting for a 3rd version to be released). Since I first started using the Kindle, I've hardly read a "dead tree" book (which is, of course, how readers of e-books refer to traditional, printed books). In fact, I hardly even enter a bookstore anymore. I simply love the Kindle and the portability of my library.

What''s been even more rare than a visit to the bookstore is a trip to the library. This past weekend was probably my first trip to the library since I received my Kindle. And how much I missed the experience immediately struck me. Physically touching books and searching through racks containing books similar to what I was looking for was gratifying. While I've read a lot and enjoyed myself in my time with the Kindle, I had already started to forget how much I enjoy trips to the bookstore and the library.

I don't have any answers or deep thoughts about it (at least not yet). But it's an interesting place we find ourselves in. What will happen in the future? Will students be familiar with physical books or will they "read" everything on Kindle, iPad, and computer-like devices? Or will these e-readers and similar technologies simply augment our reading opportunities (similar to how radio, television, and the Internet have supplemented newspapers, magazines, and oral story telling)?

Time will tell.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Baseball

Despite taking a hearty break to watch the Miami - North Carolina college baseball game on Saturday night, I was able to watch a fair portion of Saturday afternoon, evening, and late night's game between the Cardinals and Mets. Fox probably didn't intend to sign up for a 20-inning marathon, but that's what they ended up with.

You could argue a lot about the game. Some called LaRussa's performance the "Mona Lisa" in his career of over managing. There were plenty of strategies to doubt and calls to dispute (like the should-have-been stolen base that wasn't, right before Albert Pujols' double off the wall in the 19th). Overall, it was a fun baseball game to watch.

As I watched it, I couldn't help but think of one of my all time favorite books, W.P. Kinsella's "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy". It's a book that I've read a handful of times over the years. If you like a good baseball story, you'll probably like it too. If you like a "real" life story, masquerading as a baseball story (a la "The Natural"), you'll almost certainly like "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy".

In "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy" there's a very long baseball game between a small town team and a big league club. The game goes on for day's and makes Saturday's Cardinals-Mets tilt look more like a sprint than a marathon. Plus the novel includes time travel and a love story. What could be better?

By the way, if the name W.P. Kinsella is familar to you in a baseball sense, it's probably because you're thinking of Ray Kinsella, the hero from "Field of Dreams". That movie was an adaptation of W.P. Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe".

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Despite that the technology is infinitely easier for me to access, I'm finding it harder to blog regularly than ever before. I really want to blog regularly. I have plenty of things I want to talk about. But I'm just not making the effort so far.

Oh well. Here's a half-hearted effort anyway.

A few of thoughts before I go:

I love Jackie Robinson Day. It's great to see Mr. Robinson's legacy celebrated. In some sense, it's a shame that it's an off day for some teams. But at least the Dodgers are playing tonight.

Speaking of the Dodgers, I caught my first Vin Scully broadcast on Wednesday night. While Vin may look a little older, he still sounds the same. His ability to broadcast a game as a one-man show never ceases to amaze me. He's simply the best.

And although it's still extremely early, I love that Vlad Guerrero is hitting .500 at home. Sure, the Rangers have had only one homestand so far this season. But I'm hoping that Vlad continues to hit like a mad man in Arlington. Over the past three seasons Vlad hit .358 in Arlington. Should he keep up at that pace (and stay with the Rangers), maybe Vlad will reach 3,000 hits.

Jason Heyward is my favorite rookie of the young season. I heard him interviewed during a spring training game and I found myself really impressed with the young man. Plus, he "looks" like a ballplayer. And on Jackie Robinson day, I got a kick out of watching him wear #42 while wearing a throwback jersey that's from a time well before he was born.

That concludes today's Larry King style entry. If you've read this far, I apologize for putting you through it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where's the Offense?

One home stand and two intra-division series are in the books for the White Sox and the results are simply disappointing. At the conclusion of week 1 of the 2010 season the White Sox find themselves in last place in the AL Central. Sure, it's only 6 games out of 162, but taking only 1 of 3 games from both the Indians and Twins isn't a good way to start the 2010 campaign. What's most disappointing about it is how poor the offense performed.

Sure, there was the outburst on Opening Day which now looks like an anomaly. But since then there's just been a lot of ineptness. White Sox fans shouldn't be surprised. Disappointed, maybe. But not surprised.

Heading into Spring Training "everyone" knew that the White Sox biggest weakness was offense. The starting pitching and bullpen look to be solid (or better) and the defense is adequate. But the lineup is riddled with guys who are past their primes, lack power, and/or don't get on base very often. Now, it's not a lineup without redeeming qualities -- there are good players -- but there are plenty of holes.

Those holes have contributed to a team batting average that's under .200. Well under .200. Certainly that will improve, but it's frustrating to see the week one DH's include Juan Pierre and Mark Kostay.

Maybe the Sox will make a trade. Realistically, that's unlikely this early. And by the time a trade is a reasonable possibility, the Sox may be on their way to being sellers instead of buyers.

Instead of a trade, maybe the Sox can pursue a free agent. While there's a lot of history and ill will involved in such a move, maybe the Sox should consider Jermaine Dye. Even a duplication of his horrific second half performance last season would be an upgrade over what the Sox are getting now. Or maybe the Sox should go after Hank Blalock. Maybe it's time to bring back Minnie Minoso.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Make or Break Games

Given that the regular season is 162 games long, it's hard to say that any single game determines a team's course for the season or decides a team's playoff chances. But when the end of the season rolls around, you can often look back and think "what if" about a game here or there.

The White Sox and Marlins had games like those in their second game in the season. The White Sox lost a game they should have won, blowing a three run lead in the cold, while the Marlins managed to win a back-and-forth game that was wild until the finish.

When I think back on the 2003 Marlins and 2005 White Sox, they have more than World Series championships in common. Both of those teams won games that they seemingly should have lost. The most memorable example of that, of course, was the Marlins improbable come from behind win over the Cubs in game 6 of the NLCS. But winning games that are only won by a "team of destiny" was a theme for those clubs.

So what does it all mean? Well, time will tell. But it seems like a good omen for the Marlins to have found a way to win a game that they could have lost any of a dozen ways. For the White Sox, it's not so rosy. The loss in game two reminds Sox fans that the offense is still suspect and that even a solid pitching staff will go through rough stretches.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Calvin and Hobbes Explain a Slice of Life

Granted, this isn't an official Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, but I got a kick out of it:


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

In the opening day broadcast, someone on the Sox broadcast team made mention of the White Sox playing small ball this season. It was probably Ed Farmer. It's an interesting point.

Over the past few years -- the past decade really -- the White Sox have relied on a power game. Sure, much of baseball did, but the Sox were particularly reliant on the long ball. The Sox stadium was homer friendly and the lineup was full of boppers.

Now the power hitters are gone or are on the decline. With the addition of players like Juan Pierre, it doesn't seem like the Sox offense will be carried by homers any time soon. Sure there will be surges like in the opener, where the team hit a few homers. But over the long haul, Sox fans will have to get used to station-to-station baseball, stolen bases, and bunts.

Sure, it's not the most statistically sound strategy. But it can be a lot of fun to watch. The 2010 White Sox will likely rely on pitching, defense, and "headiness" on the base paths.

As a fan of the college game, I get the importance of those things. Having watched plenty of Hurricanes games over the years, I've seen plenty of games won via the bunt (well executed, mis-handled, or both) and via stolen bases that set up game winning hits. It would be kind of fun to see that type of baseball work at the Major League level. The Angels have been doing that -- to some extent -- for years. Maybe this is the year the White Sox do it too.

Monday, April 05, 2010

(Re) Opening Day

We've been dormant here for awhile, but it's time to bring the blog back to life. And what better day to do it than Opening Day? Exactly. So here we go... just a short entry today, but there will be more.

We're going to aim for a daily entry, Monday through Friday. We'll see how that goes. The topics will be a little varied this time around. Sure, there will be baseball -- both White Sox and Marlins. The content won't be as narrowly focused as on FishStripes. We'll also talk about football (college and pro). But there will be a lot of non-sports stuff too. There will definitely be technology talk, maybe some astronomy, and a little music. We may even get into personal stuff. We'll see. Time will tell.

But on to a few thoughts to kick off the baseball season:

  • The White Sox, among a few other teams, wore alternate jerseys for opening day. I hate that. Yes, we get the merchandising need for these things (even if they are more like softball jerseys than actual, traditional jerseys). Heck, I even own an alternate jersey (of the White Sox and Marlins variety). But save them for a day other than opening day. (And yes, get off my lawn! Old man rant over)
  • Sports Illustrated (in print at least) picked the Yankees to win the AL East and the Rays to win the AL Wild Card. No issues with that here. That's a reasonable pick. But the folks at the mag got cute and have predicted the Rays to represent the AL in the World Series. Really? Why's that? Apparently SI thinks the Yankees are better over the course of a 162 game season but that the Rays are better equipped for a short series.
  • Take a look at this list. What jumps out at you from the top 10? For us it was Johnny Damon (#8 with 2,425 hits). Granted, he's 36. But he's got a shot at 3,000 hits. Reaching the big leagues at 21 and sticking around helps. He probably needs 4 solid seasons to get to 3,000. It's a stretch, but possible. Does this mean Johnny Damon is a Hall of Famer? I wouldn't have ever thought it until I saw his hit total. But it's definitely possible. And with two World Series ring (1 Red Sox and 1 Yankees) , Damon will probably get a little extra consideration.
That's it for today. Not an epic entry, to be sure. But we're back.

Hopefully this will stick. The Book of Mike has been a lot of fun over the years.